On 15 August we celebrate two events: the independence of India and the assumption of the Mother of God. Both these events are feasts of freedom. 67 years ago India threw off the yoke of colonial control. India became independent. She could choose her own rulers. She could formulate her own policies and pass her own laws. She could shape her own destiny. But independence is not really freedom. As the experience of the past six decades shows we sometimes have a feeling that we have thrown off one form of slavery in exchange for another, more indigenous one. True freedom is political, economic, social but also psychological and spiritual. When we as a nation live true to our ideals and values, then we are on the royal road to true freedom. When we shed our selfishness and live for others then we are truly free. As President John F Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. When we have this attitude then we are genuinely free.
Our thoughts, ideas and beliefs are often shaped by what we see, hear or read. It is always some kind of external influence that shapes the way we think. Parents, family members, friends, television, newspapers and the books we read have much to do with the way we think. Too often, the information that enters our minds is not filtered by us, and sinks into the subconscious mind, where it becomes part of ourselves. The problem is that not all the information, thoughts or ideas we receive are true, correct or useful, and if we accept them passively, we lose our inner freedom. On the other hand, if we examine the information we receive, using our judgment, experience and intuition, we will develop inner freedom and the freedom of choice. Inner freedom enables you to form your own judgment. It enables you to choose your own reactions to outside stimuli, and avoid acting according to subconscious programming. It enables you to do what you believe is right and correct, without fears or doubts. It enables you to choose your own thoughts, and to form your own beliefs and priorities. It enables you to think in unlimited ways. You overcome the tendency to follow unconsciously what others think and do. Inner freedom means inner awakening and becoming more aware of the real you. You can wake up, awaken to your real and true self, and become a conscious, independent and free being.
Inner freedom is the fruit of divine experience. The Divine Presence completely permeates our being. This experience leaves us completely transparent, one with the wind caressing the leaves, the earth, the sun….. and a deep, deep feeling that life could now flow unhindered through me. This permanently changes the way we experience life. There is a complete inner freedom and a bubbling undercurrent of love, joy and humor, which is not conditioned by anything at all. There is fullness in every moment that cannot be put into words. Like Life breathing itself in and out of the heart. I love myself, I love people and rain drops and chocolate and silence and working and everything. And gratitude is happening all the time. I am full of Life and totally surrendered to the divine plan/love/joy/humour and always in the deepest gratitude to the great All.
It is in this sense that we call Mary our Mother the icon of freedom. She was so full of the Divine Presence that Angel Gabriel addressed her as “full of grace”. It is this experience of the divine that made her utterly free, utterly courageous and utterly humble. She could surrender herself completely to the divine will saying: “Behold the servant of the Lord, whatever the Lord wants let it happen to me”. And she was so selfless that soon after the Annunciation she arose and went to Elizabeth her cousin to help her in her need. At the wedding feast of Cana she could see the needs of the family and plead with her Son for help. Even today she pleads for all humanity, for each one of us.
It is indeed the good fortune of our country that by a happy coincidence we became independent on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. This mystery speaks of Mary’s total break from mortal chains and floating freely into the eternal presence of God. We must pray that through her intercession our country and every one of her citizens may be truly free, inwardly free so that in the words of Rabindrantah Tagore, our country may awake in the heaven of freedom “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”.